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Technology Is Crucial to Advance Global Education

One question that educators across the country are struggling with is how to utilize technology in the classroom to connect students to real-world projects as well as mentors and experts. Qiana Patterson, Executive Director of New Global Citizens, explores the challenge and the potential solutions. Join us this Thursday, July 9 at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific for a special #globaledchat with Qiana.

By guest blogger Qiana Patterson

Now more than ever is the time to consider how impactful technology is to global education. To be competitive in this job market, it is imperative that our students are actively engaged with technology tools and resources in meaningful ways that ignite curiosity and promote skills for 21st century readiness: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

The Challenge
The challenge for policymakers and developers of technology is to not simply connect a classroom to the Internet or to pile on more apps or learning management systems. Instead, they should ensure that we have the best possible technological infrastructure in our schools and provide our teachers with the best possible professional development and resources to better prepare all students for our connected world.

 As a result of the ConnectEd initiative, three million students across the United States now have access to free technology, connectivity, and training resources. Thankfully, by 2018, 99% of American students will have access to next generation broadband, which will greatly enrich students' interactive learning. 

One project aimed at maximizing digital learning opportunities and assisting school districts with moving in the direction of better preparing students for success in college and beyond is the Future Ready Schools initiative. This effort led by the Alliance for Excellent Education and the U.S. Department of Education is providing districts with resources and planning frameworks to make sure that local technology and digital learning plans align with the best instructional practices. It's important that we not only have up-to-date infrastructure but also trained teaching staff who can implement digital learning plans in the classroom.  

Collaborative Solutions
Those entrenched in developing tools for education must see the enormous importance of collaborating with educators. Resources like the EdTech Developers Guide, released this past April, can do just that. And this week the National Ed Tech Developer's Tour, hosted by The Office of Education Technology, will kick off. This series of in-person and online events is designed to ignite collaboration among entrepreneurs, developers, educators, funders, and students to solve persistent problems in education and ensure that to ensure that the resources being developed promote solutions that really work.

At New Global Citizens, the organization that I lead, we've opened up our office to collaborative teacher think tanks. As we develop more innovative ways for students and teachers to learn about global issues, we want stakeholders to be able to participate in the creative process. We'll keep open-ended office hours for our teachers and students and encourage collaboration in all ways.

Tech Innovation in the Classroom
To fill the current gap, we are seeing a huge growth in social media platforms that were not initially developed with schools in mind like Pinterest, Twitter, Google Hangouts, and many more. These are enabling teachers to more easily bring rich learning experiences from around the world into the classroom.

Although not inherently an education tool, Twitter, one of the most popular social media platforms on the web today, has inspired many schools and teachers to utilize this social network to create professional learning networks. At New Global Citizens, we've put this into practice by hosting #globaledchat each week.

And Nepris, a web-based video platform, makes it easier for teachers to bring real-world relevance to curriculum by inviting industry professionals into the classroom. Teachers drive which industry professionals are on the platform by aligning their requests with classroom activity and curriculum.  Nepris makes it easy for teachers by allowing them to manage the process, and it enables deeper learning for students through projects with international mentors.

It's exciting to know that many of our students will be the drivers of innovation and technology that solve the most pressing issues facing the globe today. We must ensure that all teachers and students are given access to these tools and opportunities to make this a reality. 

Follow Qiana, New Global Citizens, Heather, and Asia Society on Twitter. 

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